Monday, August 23, 2010

Safety Belt

A snap of the fingers and the shake of a few hands turn me into an insurance salesman. Well, I have to take a test and go through some training, but the hard work of deciding is done.

The visions of a man paying his bills, taking his woman on a trip, putting his kids through college are just too strong to ignore. I have struggled so long and so hard to keep my head above water, it should be an amazing experience to actually swim.

My background and emotional training rebels to this move as if it were a sell-out with a capital “S”. I can feel my mother rolling in her bed of Alzheimer’s disbelief.

Despite or because of our comfortable circumstances, we were raised to question authority before the phrase had become cliché. I went to a school that encouraged reinventions of the wheel. My mother’s pride that my father’s rank earned him an invitation to shake the hand of Henry Kissinger was surpassed only by her satisfaction to look the Secretary of State in the eye and refuse to do so. My family has honored success in spite of the rules, not because of them.

Yet as affectionately as my father tells the story of his rebellious wife, he tries to mask his disappointment in the financial dependence of his only son. He carried the mortgage on my first home and opened the door to my others. He bailed out my business several times, losing considerable money, and now has given me the time (credited against my inheritance) to recuperate emotionally from my failures and physically from my accident.

His push for me to find a job has been overt, but compassionately understanding and supporting my quest for passion and creativity. He followed his brother into his father’s business and hated that part of it so much, he rarely invited me to even see his office, much less get a sense of what a working environment actually looked like. Without clear guidance, his shadow has influenced my every decision about earning money. This decision being made coincidentally on his birthday delivers the perfect gift of irony that at long last I have chosen a near guarantee of financial success.

In the days since, the magnitude of the change seems both invisible and immensely apparent. Life goes on as usual, balancing my limited resources and coaxing the Redster to carry me a few miles further along. Internally, the smile shapes the growing vision of soon being able to pay cash for something more suitable for transportation and looking for a brighter place to live.

The upheaval of time has yet to color my reality. I book shows and volunteer for some projects as if without the slightest constraint on schedule. Harkening to their demand for 50 hour weeks to start, my consciousness has not assimilated the red and still lives in camouflage. The shift to accountability is a pink elephant, lurking in the next room.

My real fear is how the embrace of this “straight” job will affect my internal organs. As I have been writing so passionately about following dreams, living authentically and from the heart, I struggle with the loss of integrity this might bring, as if once again truly on the verge of being the writer my mother always knew I could be, fear rushes in, turning me in another “safer” direction.

All the rationalizations about flexibility of schedule, independence, and the security of financial vehicles are easily conjured because they have rolled off my tongue so fluently for thirty years as my construction business got more complicated and consumming. I blame its failure squarely on the heart wanting to be occupied elsewhere and risk that same half-hearted, self-sabotaging effort even more now.

Dostoevsky remained in his rented rooms, largely alone, wrestling his addictions and writing profoundly and passionately. Fitzgerald drank and Hemingway romped with bulls. Kerouac’s energy for the road sputtered out of gas much too early and I wonder about the spontaneous fireworks he could have generated with a laptop from his watchtower, but the contributions he did type transformed a generation.

Me? I sing my songs, write my wrongs, fit in with the throngs, selling insurance and living happily ever after.

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